Stand-Up Paddling in Maui
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Also called stand-up paddle surfing or paddleboarding, stand-up paddling is the "comeback kid" of surf sports; you stand on a longboard and paddle out with a canoe oar. While paddleboarding requires even more balance and coordination than regular surfing, it is still accessible to just about every skill level. Most surf schools now offer stand-up paddle lessons.
The fun thing about stand-up paddling is that you can enjoy it whether the surf is good or the water is flat. However, as with all water sports, it's important to read the environment and be attentive. Look at the sky and assess the wind by how fast the clouds are moving. Take note of where the whitecaps are going. Always point the nose of your board perpendicular to the wave. Because of the size and speed of a longboard, stand-up paddling can be dangerous to you and those around you, so lessons are highly recommended.
Stand-Up Paddle Surf School. Maui's first school devoted solely to stand-up paddleboarding was founded by the legendary Maria Souza, the first woman to surf the treacherous waves of "Jaws" on Maui's North Shore. While most surf schools offer stand-up paddling, Maria's classes are in a league of their own. They include a proper warm-up with a hula-hoop and balance ball and a cool-down with some yoga. The cost is $165 for a private session. Locations vary depending on conditions. Lahaina, HI, 96761. 808/579–9231. www.standuppaddlesurfschool.com.
Maui Adventure Cruises. Whale-watching from this company's raft puts you right above the water surface and on the same level as the whales. You'll forego the cocktail in your hand but you won't have to deal with crowds, even if the vessel is at max with 36 people. The whales can get up close if they like, and when they do it's absolutely spectacular. These rafts can move with greater speed than a catamaran, so you don't spend much time motoring between whales or pods. Refreshments are included. Prices are $45 for adults and $35 for kids 5–12 years old; children under 4 years old are not admitted. Lahaina Harbor, Slip 11, Lahaina, HI, 96761. 808/661–5550. www.mauiadventurecruises.com.
Maui Surfer Girls. Owner and bona fide waterwoman Dustin Tester is known as Mama D to the girls she mentors. The company started with surf camps, and now also offers co-ed stand-up paddle lessons. Locations vary, depending on wind conditions, but you'll most likely go to beginner-friendly Ukumehame Beach or Thousand Peaks. The lesson includes some history of the ancient sport, gear, and refreshments after the paddle. Lessons begin at $100, with an extra $20 charge for instruction by Dustin, who is accompanied by her dog, Luna. 808/214–0606. www.mauisurfergirls.com.
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